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The Commitment Contract – You Need Them to Need You

How many parents fall into the trap of giving their kids independent access to everything they need, and miss out on the opportunities to create and increase the frequency of demands and requests.

In Behavioural Science there is a made up word to describe requests, demands or commands made by a speaker by whatever means. B.F. Skinner called these “Mands”.

And we must ensure that our language or learning delayed children have the ability to make a lot of Mands appropriately – as it is the most motivating way to teach language, for someone who isn’t naturally socially motivated. And you can prompt it.

To paraphrase Cheap Trick; to get your kids communicating, by any means; you need them to need you!

You have to become an integral bridge between what they want and how to get it. And by association someone they want to interact with.

Because if you do this, and make yourself worthwhile and rewarding, the next step is that they will want to just share stuff with you, just for the joy of it. And isn’t that what we have all been waiting for?

To do this in a basic way, you watch what the kid likes, you put it out of their reach and you prompt an appropriate way of getting it.

This can be showing them how to do a sign, or giving you a card with a picture on it, or using the word and getting them to repeat it.

It does not mean putting one chair on top of another and climbing that, opening the cupboard and throwing everything out by themselves, before climbing down and chewing through the packet to get what they want.

Or leading you by the sleeve to the general area and having a tantrum while you get everything out of the cupboard in a mad panic until they identify the item and the tantrum subsides.

Both of these methods are a great way to work out exactly what a kid likes.

Because this is about what THEY like, not what YOU want them to have.

You wouldn’t work all month for an organic baked bean or some “school supplies.”

So please don’t expect them to.
Setting up any means of augmentative or alternative communication involves pairing it with what the user LOVES.

Get out the red and pink jellies. Get out the Belgian Chocolate Chip Cookies, Get out the Dark Chocolate Ferrero. This is a teaching phase. Give it all you got.

And, once you have your information you have to set up an opportunity to teach how to get it appropriately, by engaging your attention and making their specific need known.

Then, you want to ensure that they can do this as many times as possible. So only give them a little bit at a time.

This means putting child locks on cupboards and the fridge, awkward to open or even lockable boxes and containers in presses and general subterfuge – hide what they want.

And it doesn’t have to be edibles. Take their favourite video out of the room, unplug the scart lead from the back of the DVD player or hide the remote and change their favourite channel to something boring like “The History Channel” (or the Hitler Channel as we call it in our house)

But ensure that you have the means by which they can request your help accessible so it can be quickly prompted.

If you are using picture exchange make sure they are stored where the child can grab them easily.

If it’s sign, be sure everyone who is in your house can recognise it. – Put up photographs with you demonstrating those signs.

And if you are using the Grace App, have the phone on your person where you can hand over hand, prompt them to open the App, choose and share the request.

And having done that, do it again. And Again And Again.

Make your Child Need You.

Because People Who Need People are the Luckiest (Autistic) People in the World.

2 responses to “The Commitment Contract – You Need Them to Need You”

  1. Looking for Blue Sky says:

    Love this post, it always makes me try harder xx

  2. Grace App says:

    Thanks Candi, It is worth it I promise you. When you start to get that interaction that is just about "having the craic" because they like you. Absolutely Priceless.

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